Highlands snowstorm update

From Town of Highlands Mayor Pat Taylor

Let me update you about the storm situation. The county will declare a state of emergency starting on Saturday.  I will follow with an emergency declaration for the town.

I have been talking with Josh, Lamar, and Matt about the impending storm and town preparations. Our road and electric crews are preparing equipment and will be ready to respond as condition permit.

We have talked with Warren Cabe of Macon County Emergency Services. He has talked with Duke Energy representatives.  Warren says Duke is anticipating major power outages that could run for an extended period into next week.  They see this storm as a major event, with snowfall in high elevations like in Highlands being 12 to 18 inches.  Their forecasters call for ice and wind in addition to the heavy snow. Since we receive power from Duke, their outages could also impact our ability to restore power.

Lamar is concerned that we could have power poles breaking. If that is the case, the time for power restoration will be greatly extended. He is also concerned about snow equipment failures if we have huge accumulations of snow.  

Our administrative personnel will have computers linked from their homes into Town Hall in order to take calls concerning power, etc.  This system should work as long as the internet remains operational.  A number of staff have generators at their homes.  If conditions are safe, we will try to man the town hall office on Monday, which is the King Holiday.

The forecast indicates we may be in a difficult period of time when it comes to maintaining and restoring critical services. Our town crews and emergency responders are ready and will be on duty for as long as it takes.  My concern is that we could have major power outages into the week since temperatures and conditions may still be problematic.

Our protocol for plowing roads will be as usual, to plow town roads first and then assist the state if needed in clearing major highways and state maintained roads. We will assist in clearing private roads once the other commitments are done.

Garbage service will be suspended in these winter conditions. It will resume after conditions permit safe operations for our personnel and equipment.

I am making announcements on the radio and sending out eBlasts out on my website.  I am trying to get the word out not to call 911 over power outages which will invariably be wide spread.  911 needs to be a clear as possible for life threading emergencies. 

On the radio I will be advising anyone who has critical health conditions or other concerns who can locate to an area outside this storm path to do so.

From Highlands Police Chief Andrea Holland

The Highlands Police Department is always concerned with providing and maintaining a safe environment for all of our citizens and visitors.

The National Weather Service is predicting hazardous weather conditions beginning late Saturday, Jan. 15, and continuing through Monday, Jan. 17.

We are asking everyone to stay home as this type of storm often brings trees and power lines down, resulting in no power. No power means no restaurants, gas stations or grocery stores will be open.

Highlands typically has greater accumulations of snow and ice than surrounding areas. This can make the roads treacherous. If drivers are out in these conditions and slide into the ditch lines, they need to be prepared to stay there for an extended time.

Wreckers will not be able to respond quickly, if at all. Therefore, we are asking people from out of town to avoid visiting this weekend as this places them at risk.

The Department is asking residents and visitors to remember that Highlands is a small town with limited resources. If we all stay off the roads we can keep our residents, visitors, police officers, paramedics and fire personnel safe.

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